Title: Don't Stop Believing 4.5/?
Pairings/Characters: Kirk/Spock pre-slash, Uhura, McCoy, Pechalat
Notes: For detailed story summary/navigation/word count, please visit the Master Post.
A collision of two comets isn’t something particularly mysterious from a scientific point of view – merely quite rare. Spock has explained this in detail numerous times, and yet the crew retains an uncomfortable level of excitement about the upcoming event. Nyota goes as far as to organize a kind of a spontaneous reception on the Observation Deck, with light music and soft drinks, so that everyone off- shift can watch the stellar spectacle. Ensign Chekov even takes it upon himself to transmit the image to every working station on the ship so that nobody will be left out.
Spock raises his eyebrows more than usual in the course of the week, but, after several failed attempts to rein in everyone’s exuberance with logic, he decides to stop fighting the windmills and practically moves to his lab.
Spock can’t really explain why his shipmates’ lifted spirits have such a strange effect on him. He has lived among humans and served with them for a very long time to date, and he is well aware that they are sometimes prone to creating a celebration out of nothing, merely to find an outlet for their emotions. He has, in fact, come to see these tendencies as positive events, because it contributes to his colleagues’ collective mental health. Yet now, for some reason, he finds himself inexplicably and improperly annoyed by all the commotion.
He believes his shielding to be adequate, but there is a definite amount of pressure caused by the heightened emotions. A headache is a most uncommon ailment for a Vulcan, but Spock has had two highly unpleasant migraines in the span of three days. It is unnerving and inexplicable.
“You’re coming to the reception tonight, right?” Kirk asks, catching up with him in the corridor as Spock passes the ship’s gym. The captain has obviously only just finished his workout; his face is flushed from the exercise, and he’s still wearing an extremely old pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt that pass for his training clothes. The t-shirt looks like it has been in battle, and not a recent one. If the thinness of the fabric is any indication, Kirk must have inherited it straight from Hannibal when he led his army over the Alps.
“Negative, Captain,” Spock replies, frowning slightly. “I shall be witnessing the event in the science labs and gathering the data.”
“Really,” Kirk says, disappointment clear on his face. “I thought you’d come. I mean, I think it’s a good idea for you to be there.”
Spock lifts an eyebrow. “Why?”
“Well, everyone else will be.” The captain shrugs. “We’ve been pulling off some pretty tough missions lately, and I think it’s a good opportunity for the crew to unwind a little.”
Spock nods. “I concur. However, I am obliged to point out that, as I am not human, I do not require socializing to ‘unwind.’”
“Well – no, I suppose you don’t.” Kirk pauses, looking uncertain. “But I was – kind of looking forward to tonight myself, I guess. I mean, you all work damn hard, and I guess… well, I’d love to have a chance to just talk to – to everyone about, I don’t know – hobbies and books and favorite foods, you know?”
“It sounds reasonable, Captain. I am pleased you will have an opportunity to enjoy yourself.”
“Yes, but I’d like you to be there and enjoy yourself with the rest of us,” Kirk says, sounding almost frustrated. “Really, Spock – I checked your schedule. You haven’t had a day off in months. And don’t tell me you don’t need to relax; I’ve seen you do it.” He grins knowingly. “There’ll be music there tonight; might even be something you like.”
Spock frowns slightly, searching for words. This sensation of mild disquiet that has become a constant background noise lately seems to intensify to the point of distinct uneasiness whenever Spock’s mind isn’t fully occupied with his duties. He has also noticed that the presence of certain individuals tends to affect him more than that of others, and Kirk most remarkably so.
Spock doesn’t know if he should blame the meld, shallow as it was, or something else entirely, but he can’t deny the pattern any longer. And he most certainly doesn’t need a reminder of the way he acted that night two months ago, when he and Kirk had their impromptu musical interlude in the officers’ lounge.
Kirk was someone else then, or maybe Spock was. Looking back at the episode is like snatching a glimpse of someone else’s life rather than his own. The sensation is akin to what humans describe as ‘a dream so real it feels like it happened.’ Spock is unnerved by the impression, but, as time unfolds, more and more of his memories attain this dream-like, surreal quality. He can scarcely believe he is seeing himself.
There are nights when Spock envies his shadow.
“I would caution you against taking my behavior that night as a baseline for your extrapolation of my habits, Captain,” he says, vaguely pleased with how cool his voice sounds. “That was a particularly taxing mission. The level of strain had made me... act in a manner I would not normally employ.”
Kirk’s smile fades. “I see.” He looks down briefly, his voice soft. “I didn’t mean to assume anything, Spock; I just thought you liked playing with me.”
I did, Spock almost says, and wishes desperately they had never started this conversation. Cocky Kirk, he could deal with. Brazen Kirk, he is used to. This Kirk... This Kirk is like an old wound that has ostensibly healed, but is, in truth, forever there, cut in too deep to mend.
“It is not uncommon for humans to project their own emotions on others.”
Kirk looks up at him, startled. For some reason, Spock finds it physically difficult to hold his eyes.
“If you will excuse me, Captain.”
Spock steps around Kirk and marches down the corridor, trying to recall what it feels like to not be defeated. He glances back just as he’s about to turn the corner. Kirk is still standing as Spock has left him, but his shoulders seem to have sunk even lower.
Spock closes his eyes for a moment, and walks on.
In the end, his own staff shoves him out.
Lieutenant Pechalat insists on taking over his duty shift and, no matter how hard Spock tries to convince her that she need not to punish herself for Verada, she remains deaf to his arguments. When Lieutenant Hendricks joins her, Spock realizes that he has a minor case of mutiny on his hands. He stares at his two junior officers in mild disbelief, because the majority of the ship’s personnel flinch when Spock so much as looks their way, but those two – those two are smiling at him.
“I don’t quite know how to tell you this, sir,” Pechalat says, grinning like she’s invincible, “but… we work here, too, you know.”
She looks over at Hendricks, who nods. “It’s the collective opinion of the Science department that you take an evening off, sir.”
Spock lifts an eyebrow at him, unable to understand why they refuse to be intimidated by him. The rest of the crew seems to have more sense, and when has he lost control over his own staff like this?
“You seem to be operating under the delusion that this is a democracy, Mr. Hendricks.”
“Hmm, well, it’s not,” Pechalat drawls thoughtfully, whirling a lock of hair around her finger. “But in the interests of efficiency, Commander, we believe you should take a break. Unless you don’t consider us qualified enough to monitor the sensors?”
“I consider you illogical,” Spock snaps, but adds reluctantly, “Though qualified enough.”
The way they beam at him is extremely disconcerting. He concedes – out of tiredness or confusion, he doesn’t know.
“You may proceed.”
“Thank you, sir!” They both salute smartly. Spock barely nods in response. Sometimes working with humans can be quite... frustrating.
He makes his way toward the Observation Deck slowly, as though fighting an irresistible pull. He can’t explain why he feels so uneasy about going. Kirk is his captain, after all, and captains don’t have to make their requests orders to ensure obedience. Spock should not be having a problem with that.
He resists the urge to pinch the bridge of his nose. The headache is becoming worse.
The low sounds of music and chatter are apparent long before he enters the main observation lounge. Spock pauses at the doorway, not wishing to attract anyone’s attention. His eyes sweep over his colleagues – relaxing, talking, enjoying each other’s company – and suddenly Spock feels vaguely nauseous, because he wants to be with them so badly and he can’t, and he doesn’t know why. He just knows that if he does enter – if he joins the conversation – if he allows that tightly wound coil inside of him to unfold – something bad will happen, something more terrible than nearly killing a stubborn human being who ‘rubbed him the wrong way.’
Of course, the moment he thinks of Kirk, his eyes settle on the captain. Kirk is standing across the room from Spock, in front of the viewport; he’s talking to Doctor McCoy, and both men are laughing.
The crew around them suddenly becomes more excited because, outside the ship, two huge blocks of ice are moving rapidly toward each other, illuminated by the nearest star. Everyone’s eyes are glued to the cosmic show, but Spock can’t focus. He remains a frozen figure by the doorway, trying and failing to concentrate as the comets collide and the lounge erupts in cheers and clapping.
Illogical of course, and yet...
Kirk turns back to McCoy, saying something, and then, as if he can feel the eyes upon him, he turns further and locks gazes with Spock.
Spock doesn’t move; doesn’t breathe. He doesn’t know what is happening, but his heart sinks impossibly low when Kirk’s smile softens, blue eyes clouded with an expression Spock can’t identify, then gives McCoy his glass and starts toward Spock, never breaking eye contact. Spock’s mind clears for a split second, with a flash of panic cutting through the haze, and he knows then – he is instantly enlightened.
For whatever reason, unlikely as it is, James Kirk is a siren and Spock is seconds from being shipwrecked – for the second and final time.
By nothing short of a miracle, his survival instincts flare back to life. Kirk’s progress is halted for a moment by a crewmember who asks him a question. Spock slips out the door and doesn’t look back.
“—and then he says: ‘Independent suffixes in Andorian? Not on your life!’ And I say, fine, don’t trust me, let’s see who’s gonna get punched in the face instead of served a meal. Three guesses who was right in the end? Oh, sorry, of course, Vulcans don’t make guesses. Spock? Are you even listening to me?”
Spock looks up. “Of course, Nyota.”
“Really?” She folds her arms across her chest, eyeing him dubiously. “What was the last thing I said?”
“The last thing you said was: ‘Are you even listening to me?’”
“Cute, Spock. You’re becoming more human by the day.”
“I see no reason for insults.”
He stares back into his PADD, but Nyota apparently isn’t going to let him go so easily.
“You’ve been doing this a lot lately, you know.”
He glances up. “Doing what?”
“Spacing out. It’s like you’re not even in the room. I’m talking to myself most of the time here, and I’m not so far gone that I enjoy it, Spock, let me tell you.”
“I do not know what you would have me say. If my concentration has been inadequate, surely it would have reflected on the quality of my work.”
“Oh, your concentration’s just fine when you’re on duty,” she allows impatiently. “You’re like two hundred percent in there. It’s when you’re off duty that this is happening – only you don’t go off duty so much anymore, do you? This is like the second time in three weeks. Don’t you think it’s a little extreme?”
Spock looks at her. “I do not believe you are correct.”
“Oh, aren’t I? Spock, when was the last time you and I played racquetball?” He frowns and she chuckles humorlessly. “Don’t bother; it’s been too long. Lieutenant Pfeifer tells me the Science department hasn’t held a public debate in two months, and that was your idea – you love debate clubs, but apparently you haven’t been available to moderate a session in forever. You only go to the gym when you’re certain nobody’s there.
“Spock.” She leans over and places a hand on his knee. “I’m the only person you’re still seeing socially, and you hardly even talk to me.”
Spock frowns and moves out of her reach. “I have many duties, Nyota.”
“Sure, and the rest of us are just here for entertainment.”
“I did not say that.”
“But that’s what you implied.” Her eyes soften, and suddenly Spock wants to be anywhere but in this room with her. “Spock, listen. I know that it couldn’t have been easy exactly... After – after Vulcan and…” She trails off, searching for words and failing. “Look, I don’t want to presume that I know what you’re going through, but—”
“I am not ‘going through’ anything,” he says sharply. If only he were...
Nyota blinks. “Fine,” she says carefully, and Spock can’t submerge a pang of resentment toward her for humoring him so obviously. She is treating him as though he is sick. It is... unacceptable. “I’m just saying, a little more interaction could be good for you.”
He all but springs to his feet, shaken by an unexpected surge of previously pent-up anger. “I am not human,” he snaps. “I do not require socializing to perform adequately.”
She watches him, startled by the sudden outburst, quiet but obvious nonetheless. “Spock, I’m only saying that if you’re not comfortable with others, I’m here. If you need to talk—”
He glances at her brusquely. “Is that a euphemism for what you really desire?”
Color rushes to her cheeks, illuminates her face, and anger has never looked so beautiful. Spock can see it coming, but he still does nothing to stop Nyota when she steps toward him and slaps him across the face with all the energy she can muster. His head jerks to the side with the force of her blow.
They stand immobile for a while, breathing.
“I’m sorry,” he says quietly at last.
“Mhm.” She sighs, rubbing her forehead. “Feeling better?”
Their eyes meet. Nyota smiles, then laughs softly. “Much.”
Spock is almost swayed enough to smile with her. “I am gratified.”
She pulls him closer, and he goes willingly. The kiss is warm, languorous, and just easy. Spock reaches to tuck a stray lock of hair behind Nyota’s ear.
“You should not tempt me,” he murmurs gently.
She shakes her head. “I’d do it in a second if you needed it. You know that, right?”
Spock lifts an eyebrow. “Am I to assume you found the experience sufficiently agreeable?”
She laughs, open and carefree. “And here I was thinking you’re not equipped with a male ego.” She nudges him in the ribs lightly, eyes dancing. “Nah. You’re good, Spock, but that’s not why I’m offering.”
“I’m just worried about you.”
Spock sighs. “Nyota, I wish I knew a way to alleviate your concern. I am” – he pauses – “fine.”
“Fine,” she repeats, incredulous.
“Fine,” he reiterates, and looks away. The variable definitions to the word have their advantages.
“Well,” she intones dubiously. “I’ll leave you be, then. For now.” She squeezes his hand and steps back, about to leave.
“Wait.” Spock picks up a PADD from his desk and hands it to her. “If you would please give this to the captain? These are the crew evaluation reports he asked for.”
She takes the PADD from him, frowning. “Why don’t you give it to him yourself?”
He busies himself with rearranging his data chips. “I am otherwise occupied, and you are headed to the bridge. It is logical—”
“Spock.” She regards him carefully, her eyes quietly assessing. “You’ve been avoiding him.”
“I have not.”
“We’ve all noticed.”
“Whoever you are referring to, you and they are incorrect.”
“Did you two have another fight?”
“Certainly not.” Spock straightens and turns to look at her, extending a hand. “I did not realize it would be so much trouble. I shall hand it to the captain myself.”
She shakes her head. “No, I got this. It’s just that...” She grimaces.
He lifts an eyebrow, and she shrugs. “He really isn’t so bad once you get to know him.”
Spock sees his way out and seizes it. “I will be certain to mention to him you said so. He will undoubtedly be... ecstatic.”
She blushes vividly. “Don’t you dare! You say one word of this to him, and I’ll – I’ll tell him you like him best in a wet t-shirt!” Her eyes gleam with triumph.
Spock folds his arms across his chest, eyeing her calmly. “He is objectively attractive. What reasons would I have to deny this?”
Her eyes narrow. “You’re just playing it cool, aren’t you?”
“You are welcome to find out. Somehow, I doubt an acknowledgement of an objective fact from me would have nearly the same effect on him as your confession.”
She covers her eyes with her hand. “Oh my God, and I call you a friend.”
“For a reason,” Spock says, suppressing a smile. “I wish you a productive shift, Nyota.”
She shoots him a dark look as the door closes behind her. Spock’s mirth fades as quickly as if Nyota has taken it with her, and he frowns, staring into space.
This was a close call. Something tells him that, next time, Nyota won’t be dissuaded so easily.
Part of him wants to be honest with her, wants to explain... But explain what? That he is as heartless as she never believed he could be? That Kirk was right about him all along, and Spock really doesn’t feel anger or heartbreak when his whole world is gone?
She will not believe him. Nyota is too kindhearted to accept this truth about him, and Spock feels like a coward in wishing for her to remain deluded on his account.
Without her, there will be no one left.
He ends up working well into Gamma shift, but this would be the fifth night in a row that he doesn’t get any sleep if he doesn’t stop, so Spock decides to do what is logical and at least attempt it. This time, falling asleep is surprisingly easy, and, thankfully, his mind obviously has other priorities than supplying him with disturbing dreams that he can never remember in the morning.
Spock jerks upright in his bed without an immediate understanding as to what has woken him. He has barely been asleep for two hours and fifteen minutes—
“Life support has been compromised! Leave the room immediately! Life support has been compromised!”
The computer alert is loud and scratchy in Spock’s ears, but his mind has already restarted, analyzing possible reasons behind the alarm even as he rolls out of bed and heads out of the room.
The corridor outside is lit only by emergency lights and is filled with bewildered crewmembers, most of them in their sleep wear. Spock is pleased to note that nobody is panicking as he makes his way toward the control panel at the intersection, even as he hears several people call out to him and each other with variations of ‘What’s going on?’
Spock reaches for the panel, meaning to type in his security code, only to have his fingers clash with someone else’s.
He looks up. “Captain.”
Kirk has obviously been just coming off shift or was working late, because he’s still in uniform.
“Sorry,” Kirk mutters. “Didn’t see you there. D’you know what the hell is it now?”
Spock shakes his head, punching in the code and calling up the environmental system display. “It appears there is some kind of pathogen in the ventilation system.”
Spock glances down the corridor before returning his attention to the display. “According to this, the substance is contained within crew quarters on this deck, port side, sections 10 to 21. It spread quite rapidly before our environmental system could react – which means anyone who has been there has been exposed, myself included.” He pauses. “However, there appear to be no ill effects.”
Kirk frowns. “Well, thank God for small mercies. Can you tell anything about the substance?”
Spock concentrates on the readings displayed, but they are too few for a conclusive answer. “I will have to go to my lab—”
“Scott to Captain Kirk,” a voice from the intercom interrupts suddenly.
Kirk and Spock share a look. The captain raises his eyebrows as if to say, ‘Well, that’s gonna be interesting,’ and reaches to answer.
“Kirk here. Scotty, what the hell’s happening to my ship?”
Scott’s voice, Spock notes as they listen, is decidedly disapproving. “Well, there’s this lad – Ensign Blunders?”
“I’m sorry?” Kirk blinks and stares at the comm unit. “I have an Ensign Blunders on my ship and I don’t know about it?”
Spock actually winces. “I am fairly certain Mr. Scott is referring to Ensign Bludders, Captain. From the Maintenance department.”
“Aye, him,” Scott confirms grudgingly. “Apparently, this Blunders” – he stresses the name vindictively – “has decided to woo some lass by spikin’ the air in her quarters with rose essence or the like—”
There’s a sharp gasp in the gathered crowd, and everyone turns to look at Yeoman Tamura, who has clasped a hand over her mouth and appears to be suffering from extreme embarrassment.
“—only he got the ingredients wrong. It spread right quickly and the computer went berserk and, well, the smell’s foul. There’s no hazard, only the net is sensitive, and it’ll take a while to clean this up, because someone who’s forgotten his bloody brains back on Earth had gone to extra trouble to make it sticky.” Scott snorts derisively. “We put a stop to that, but I’m not recommending goin’ back to those rooms for a coupla hours at least.”
“Scotty.” Kirk rubs his forehead and tries to ignore the crew snickering around him. His own lips are twitching. “I take it this unfortunate gentleman is down there with you?”
“Aye, he is. And he’s gonna stay here and be decontaminating all kinds of fancy things with a manual cleanser for me for the upcoming month,” Scott growls. “If that meets with yer approval, Captain.”
Kirk’s chest is heaving with silent laughter, but he manages to sound strict as he speaks. “Oh, it most certainly does. Tell him he will also be reporting to Doctor McCoy to update his education on biohazards” – he glances at Spock, grinning – “and Commander Spock for an update on starship protocols.”
Spock lifts an eyebrow, but doesn’t comment. Kirk’s grin widens. “Oh, and Scotty? Let me know when it’s safe for the guys to get back to their beds, okay?”
“Sure thing, Captain. Scott out.”
“Bones is gonna eat him alive,” Kirk says, shaking his head and tapping the panel closed.
“You are taking this incident very lightly,” Spock notes, stepping back as well. The deck is uncomfortably cool beneath his bare feet.
“Maybe, but trust me, Spock – being called Ensign Blunders for the next millennia or so will be punishment enough.”
Spock opens his mouth to make a remark on the illogical nature of nicknames when he realizes they are still standing in the middle of a small crew gathering, and, for some reason, everyone seems to be looking at him.
Spock frowns. While he understands that it is perhaps less than usual to observe one’s commanding officer out of uniform, he does not believe that his inconspicuous regulation underwear and t-shirt merit this much scrutiny, subtle commenting, and not so subtle smirking. Certainly there are more fascinating objects for such attention currently available. Ensign Rowlens, for one, is wearing bright pink pajamas with smiling teddy bears on them; and Yeoman Lynn is holding a stuffed animal in her hands which is vaguely reminiscent of a Deltan dragon.
Spock scowls, but it seems to have no effect whatsoever. This is probably understandable, given that no one appears to be looking at his face.
“Oy, listen up,” Kirk says suddenly, stepping in front of Spock and brushing his arm as he does so. “What’s with the staring, people? Don’t you guys have any manners?”
The immediate effect of Kirk’s words produces an even stranger scene – there now seems to be a wave of people averting their eyes and pretending they hadn’t been staring in the first place. Most illogical.
“I heard rec room 2 is available for a pajama party,” Kirk says, hands planted solidly on his hips as he taps his foot on the deck. “Shoo.”
Spock watches thoughtfully as the crewmembers hurry away, and glances at Kirk sideways.
Kirk grins at him ruefully. “It worked, didn’t it?”
He looks Spock up and down and sighs for some reason. “You better come with me, I guess. My quarters weren’t affected; you can wait there.”
“I can as easily wait here.”
“Well, yeah, I suppose you can – only you’ll freeze, and I think that’s enough wanking material you’ve given them as it is.”
Spock blinks. “‘Wanking material’?”
Kirk looks at him, sighs again, and drags his hand over his face tiredly. “Come with me, Commander,” he says in an exasperated voice. “Consider it an order if you have to.”
The decks on the Enterprise are shaped as half-moons, and senior officers are traditionally assigned quarters as far away from each other as possible to increase the chances of at least one of them surviving in case of a ship-wide disaster. Kirk’s quarters, however, are only twenty-five numbers down from Spock’s, instead of fifty, because Spock has chosen the room assigned to the Science Officer rather than First Officer. Nyota, who, according to regulations, should never live on the same deck and side as the Chief Engineer, currently occupies the XO’s room. Another senior officer sharing the deck with Spock and Kirk is Doctor M'Benga, while McCoy, Scott, and Sulu reside two decks below.
“Make yourself at home.” Kirk gestures with his hand as they enter the dark room. “Computer, lights. Raise temperature ten degrees Celsius.”
“That is unnecessary,” Spock protests, though it is slightly chilly for him on board even when he is fully dressed.
“It’s no big deal.” Kirk shrugs, walking over to the replicator. “Want some tea?”
Spock considers the offer. “Thank you.”
Kirk nods, punching in the order. Spock looks around. Kirk’s desk is swarmed with PADDs, data chips, and various instruments – some of which seem to be of his own invention, as Spock is certain he has never seen the likes before. There is a half-eaten apple sitting by the monitor, and there are at least two mugs with what looks like stale coffee: one just behind the comm unit, another on the visitor’s chair, flanked by a mounting, haphazardly stacked pile of books, and – Spock squints – yes, there is another one, under a PADD at the corner of the desk. Spock doubts very much that Kirk remembers any of them are there.
He looks behind him. The bed isn’t made, even though it doesn’t seem to have been used recently. There is a vial with what looks suspiciously like plasma coolant on the nightstand, beside an open book, a half-assembled 3D chess board, and another apple. Another set of PADDs is scattered all over the bed, together with a discarded t-shirt and a crumpled towel.
“Yeah, it’s kind of a mess in here. Sorry.”
Spock turns to accept a steaming cup Kirk is handing him. “Thank you,” Spock repeats quietly, curling his hands around the warm ceramic.
“Um, just let me...” Kirk trails off, brushing past Spock toward his bed. “Hold on a sec.”
Spock watches in bemusement as Kirk sweeps whatever has been lying on the bed to the floor in a broad motion of his arm, then pulls the cover up abruptly, trying to smooth it with his hand.
“Well,” the captain drawls, rubbing his neck and surveying his handiwork with a sheepish expression. “It’s probably safe to sit here now.”
“Probably,” Spock says, without making it a question or a statement.
He takes a sip of his tea instead, and sits on the edge of the bed gingerly. Kirk looks at him until Spock raises an eyebrow.
“Um, you maybe want to – I mean, despite what it looks like, I do have some clean stuff in here.” Kirk gestures to his wardrobe. “If you wanna borrow something of mine... You know, if you’re cold or something.”
Spock takes another sip of the hot liquid, closing his eyes for a moment in bliss. When he opens them, he finds Kirk still looking at him with a strange expression. Spock remembers, belatedly, that the captain has asked him a question.
“I am appreciative of your hospitality, Captain, but I do not believe that is necessary,” Spock replies mildly.
“Oh.” Kirk blinks. “Right.” He pauses, as if collecting his thoughts.
Spock drinks his tea, feeling oddly uncaring about any of this. He has been trying to avoid Kirk for some time now, and this is part of the reason. Kirk’s presence has a tendency to relax something profound in Spock when he least expects it. Like a fifth column, it sneaks in, waiting quietly for the right moment to start wrecking havoc – which is why Spock usually tenses up more, trying to compensate whenever he has to be in close quarters with Kirk.
But he is probably too tired tonight. He finds himself succumbing to the fatalism of the situation without much fight.
“Well,” Kirk says, dragging Spock out of his philosophical musings. “You’re not sleeping, I’m not sleeping, and we’re both here. Might as well go over those evaluations, I guess?”
Spock considers it, looking up and watching Kirk, who seems strangely nervous. Spock raises an eyebrow at the uncharacteristic behavior; Kirk blushes suddenly and looks away.
“That is a logical proposal, Captain.” Spock inclines his head politely. “I believe it would indeed be the most efficient way to utilize our time.”
“Great.” Kirk smiles and claps his hands. “Let’s get to it, then.”
They end up both sitting on the floor, passing PADDs back and forth between them as they discuss personnel deployment and the initial successes and failures of various officers. Spock finds himself approving of the quiet, absorbed way Kirk is listening to his opinions, and is also pleasantly surprised by the unexpected insights the captain offers. Spock doesn’t notice that he has been trying to discern exactly how Kirk has come by them, given their astounding accuracy, until Kirk laughs and shakes his head.
“Sometimes it’s just a gut feeling, Spock – what can I tell you?”
Spock tilts his head to one side curiously, sinking back to let his back rest against the bed. “And your ‘gut feeling’ is based on the fact that Lieutenant Monroe does not know who Loki is.”
Kirk grimaces. “She didn’t laugh at the joke, Spock.”
“That is not surprising, considering that one must be familiar with the basics of ancient Norse mythology to understand it.”
“Hey, it’s not like it’s something extraordinary,” Kirk defends. “I mean, you get it, right? You’d laugh if you weren’t Vulcan.”
“I assure you, I would not. As I understand it, the humorous impact of this particular anecdote is dependent largely on the delivery.” Spock looks at Kirk pointedly. “Which, in your case, was severely lacking.”
“Hey!” Kirk shoots up to sit on his knees. “I’m a great joker, I’ll have you know!”
Spock is unable to prevent his lips from twitching and looks down hastily to conceal his amusement.
Kirk groans and presses his hand against his face. “God, I got a Vulcan to make fun of me. This must be a new low.”
The sound of the door chime catches them both by surprise. Spock straightens his back, blinking at the two empty teacups beside him. He vaguely recalls Kirk giving him the second one, now that he thinks about it.
“Come in,” Kirk calls as they both glance at the door.
Doctor McCoy steps in, his mouth half-open in preparation to say something, when he takes in the picture that greets him inside and stops abruptly, staring. After a few more seconds spent gaping, he looks at the captain, whose gold shirt was discarded due to the heat quite a while ago.
“For the love of my sanity, Jim, tell me it’s not what I think.”
Kirk smirks. “I have no idea what you think, Bones. Spock? Do you know what he thinks?”
Spock glances from one human to the other. “I was not aware the doctor could think.”
“Oh, aren’t you hilarious?” McCoy drawls irritably, while Kirk snorts a surprised laugh. “The deck’s decontaminated, if that’s of any interest to either of you smartasses.”
“Indeed.” Spock glances over at Kirk, and they both rise to their feet slowly. “If you would not object, Captain, perhaps we could finish the evaluations at another time?”
“Yeah, sure. Get some rest, Spock.” Kirk grins at him.
“Yes, Spock, please do,” McCoy interjects suddenly, eyeing Spock warily. “You look like shit. I’m placing you off duty till fourteen hundred hours.”
“Hush up, now. It’s not just you; it’s everyone who got kicked out of bed tonight. We’re not doing anything that urgent at the moment, so take a morning off.” McCoy obviously catches Spock’s expression, because he scowls at him even more deeply. “Medical orders, Commander, and don’t make me enforce them. That goes for you too, Jim.”
“Aw, Bones, really?”
“Oh my God, what are you both, five?” McCoy groans exasperatedly. “Spock, off you go. And dammit, Jim, you might wanna clean this mess every once in a while. I heard your yeoman is scared to walk in here.”
Recognizing one of the doctor’s standard starting lectures, Spock chooses to make a strategic retreat. He bends down to pick up the empty cups and deposits them to the recycler.
“Captain.” He nods at Kirk and turns to leave.
He is certain he has misinterpreted the expression in Kirk’s eyes as the captain watches him go.